A report by the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF), a New York-based international civil society organization dedicated to the culture of peace, human rights and sustainable development, provides extensive information on violations of the right to education by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the aftermath of an attempted coup on July 15, 2016.
The report, titled “Assault on the Right to Education in Turkey,” was released on Jan. 24, the International Day of Education.
The report draws in-depth information from structured interviews with Turkish students whose right to education has been violated by the government in addition to analyzing arbitrary arrests, abductions, detentions, threats, dismissals and confiscations in the education sector, using new discriminatory legislation and decree-laws.
According to JWF, the findings of the report reveal that the Turkish government is in flagrant breach of its international obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to respect, protect and fulfill each of the “essential features” of the right to education: availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability.
The report argues that the massive dismissal of teachers and academics due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP designate as a terrorist organization and accuse of masterminding the attempted coup in 2016, have significantly affected the education sector and thereby the right to education in the country.
The movement, which focuses on science education, volunteerism, community involvement, social work and interfaith and intercultural dialogue and is inspired by the teachings of the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, strongly denies any involvement in the failed putsch or any terrorist activities.
Erdoğan, who has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of Dec. 17-25, 2013 that implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle, intensified the crackdown on the movement following the coup attempt.
He dismissed more than 125,000 people, including over 34,000 teachers, from the civil service by decrees enacted during a state of emergency between 2016 and 2018.
The Turkish government also arbitrarily closed thousands of private educational institutions and confiscated their properties and assets over their links to the faith-based group.
The report is expected to serve as a call by the JWF on the AKP government to observe fundamental human rights and to fulfill its international obligations on the right to education by implementing effective measures.